Remarkable art… a remarkable woman

I was looking through my favourite paintings the other day and I thought it would be interesting to share with you.

Karl Brullov. The famous Russian painter of the Age of Romanticism.


Karl Bruilov. Self-portrait

He was born in Italy in 1799, and came to Russia with his father–a sculptor named Briullo whose last name was Russified to Briullov. He studied in the Imperial Academy of Art in St Petersburg. His probably most famous painting is “The Last Day of Pompeii”, a picture of the destruction of Pompeii in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  It is huge!


Karl Brullov “The Last Day of Pompeii”

When “The Last Day of Pompeii” (1830-33) was finished, the Italian press hailed it as a masterpiece and Briullov became famous. Public enthusiasm is easy to understand, as Briullov offered something for every taste: he gave a melodramatic treatment of a classical subject with a wealth of realistic detail. 

When he returned to Russia in 1841 Briullov was saluted as the greatest master of the day. He never did produce anything on this scale, but created many portraits and they were just beautiful.

Mary A Bek

Portrait of Princess A.A.Bagration.

italian afternoon

Karl Brullov died in 1852 age 53 and was buried in his beloved Italy.

But one of his models especially captivated me. What an extraordinary woman! Her name was Countess Julia Samoilova. Not only was she extraordinarily beautiful, but  fiercely independent, artistic and… well… very unusual.

Here is the first portrait of her by Brullov

Portrait of Countess Samoilova with (Giovanina) Amacilia Pacini and black boy

Julia was born in 1804. She was the last scion of Skavronskiy family (a very influential and immensely rich family of the Polish origin). She was made a lady-in waiting and, aged 21, married count Nikolay Samoilov

Nikolai Samoylov by Mitoire

Emperor Alexander I blessed their wedding but it turned out not very happy. Julia and Nikolai’s arguments were legendary. The young count had an unfortunate addiction to binge drinking and gambling.

In two years time the couple separated. Samoilov turned out to be a noble person, he returned Julia’s dowry ( remember, she was immensely rich) and stayed friends with her. But the scandal in the society was quite serious, even Julia’s own grandmother refused seeing her at some point.

What I find so remarkable about this woman (apart from her beauty ) is that she was so unconventional. Remember, we are talking about 19th century! So, she was ostracized in the high society of St Petersburg –  what did she do? She went back to Italy. Simples!

In Milan she became a grand dame of the local society, surrounded herself with artists, composers, poets (among her friends were Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini), became the patron of artists and musicians.

There she met Karl Brullov. They fell in love and were there till his death in 1852. Julia outlived him for 23 years. Karl painted several portraits of his muse but only a few still exist.

K. Brullov Countess Yulia Samoilova Retiring from the Ball

K. Brullov Rider

After Julia’s grandmother died and left her more riches she returned to Russia. She hired Karl’s elder brother, an architect, to rebuild one of her newly acquired manors near St.Petersburg. According to her contemporaries, it was “a treasure, so elegant and wonderful, full of art”.

She kept entertaining there as she used to do it in Italy: invited musicians and poets, organized masquerades and balls. The atmosphere was free and informal. Julia was extremely independent (well, she could afford to be :)). She shocked the society with her extravagance and, in the end, the Emperor Nikolay I “gave her his royal permission to leave Russia”. Hint-hint!

Oh, well, never mind.  Julia went to Italy again.

By that time Karl Brullov had married and divorced (after just two months), Julia’s husband had died, nothing kept them in Russia any more. Both loved Italy anyway so they lived happily at her villa. Unfortunately, not for ever after.

In 1845 Julia decided to break with Brullov and next year she, quite unexpectedly, married a young Italian tenor Perri, who was very handsome! But the new marriage bliss was not to last, alas…Next year Perri died of consumption in Venice. He was buried in Paris, at Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Juia Samoylova by Mitoire

Apparently, the loss of the Countess title was very upsetting for Juia. For about 15 years she was missing it greatly. So, at the age of 60 she decided to marry again, this time  a French aristocrat Count Charles de Mornes (not sure this is the correct spelling, sorry!). She received her title, he received a huge maintenance and they parted their ways.

Her life was quite sad in the end. Her adoptive daughters (she adopted two girls in 1830-s, they were allegedly the daughters of a poor Italian composer) were suing her (!) for money she had promised them and that wretched alimony she was paying to  her third husband practically bankrupted her…

Julia died in Paris aged 71 and was buried next to her second husband.

In his painting “The Last Day of Pompeii” Karl Brullov painted her thrice: next to the painter with a pitcher on her head, fallen on the ground and as a mother hugging her two daughters…

last day


My new Fantasy Cats painting

I’ve been so busy just lately but still managed to finish another painting of my Fantasy Cats series.

I love cats… I’d like to portrait them not in the usual, “photographic” style but interpret their personality in my own way.

Let me introduce you to the “Two Happy Cats”:



“Two Happy Cats”
Size : 22.5cm x 30.5cm; approx 9″x12″
Medium : Acrylic paints
Material : canvas

As usual you can have a look at my other works in my shop here

In Paris With You

My daughter showed me this poem in her school (!) poetry anthology. I thought it was very sad and beautiful… It reminded me of Julio Cortazar for some reason…

I would like to share it with you.



In Paris With You

Don’t talk to me of love. I’ve had an earful
And I get tearful when I’ve downed a drink or two.
I’m one of your talking wounded.
I’m a hostage. I’m maroonded.
But I’m in Paris with you.

Yes I’m angry at the way I’ve been bamboozled
And resentful at the mess I’ve been through.
I admit I’m on the rebound
And I don’t care where are we bound.
I’m in Paris with you.

Do you mind if we do not go to the Louvre
If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame,
If we skip the Champs Elysées
And remain here in this sleazy

Old hotel room
Doing this and that
To what and whom
Learning who you are,
Learning what I am.

Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris,
The little bit of Paris in our view.
There’s that crack across the ceiling
And the hotel walls are peeling
And I’m in Paris with you.

Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris.
I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do.
I’m in Paris with your eyes, your mouth,
I’m in Paris with… all points south.
Am I embarrassing you?
I’m in Paris with you.

James Fenton

Music… Something out of this world…

Yesterday I went to listen to London Symphony Orchestra.

It was unforgettable.

It was just too wonderful for words.

But I’ll try.

To start with, in spite of the fact that I love classic music, I’ve never listened to a symphony live. I’ve been to a ballet and opera numerous times and listened to recordings and watched concerts on TV and YouTube :). But what I really wanted was to listen to a’ real’ orchestra (you know what I mean).

And yesterday it happened to me. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 happened to me.

While I was sitting there with my eyes closed , awash with this heavenly music,  I was feeling such happiness… and sadness.. and compassion for this great composer and very unhappy person who created this music… Everything was in it: the world’s greatness and bleakness and beauty  and tranquility and love and despair and hope. Oh, I can’t express it properly! All I know, I had tears in my eyes at some point…

They said he wrote this Symphony during six month. Really? Surely, it just appeared, this incredible flow of the most beautiful music in the world!

After the concert a strange thought suddenly came to me. Strictly speaking, Tchaikovsky and, say, a football fan brandishing a can of beer and brawling after a game – are made of the same gene material. So, what put them in such polar corners of humanity? What is it that makes one human being create a heavenly music and the other – shout obscenities, fight and puke in the gutter?

tchaikovsky_2 fat-packer-fan1

What is this divine spirit that drives a person like Tchaikovsky to bring into existence music that moves you so much?  I must admit, that even being an atheist myself, I started thinking of some sort of a link between him and.. well, God, surely?

The concert hall was filled to the brim. And the ovation didn’t seize for about half an hour after the music stopped. My palms are hurting today…

My new Cushion Cover “White Rabbit with a Carrot”

Had an inspiration for yet another cushion cover – and here it is!

My White Bunny is happily munching his carrot and there is plenty more to pick …

I did the appliqued details in a high quality felt and sewed everything by hand (as usual).

wb4 wb6

If you’d like to see my other works you can find them here

My new cushion at last – “The White Cat”

Ok, like I said, I managed to make a new cushion cover in between the gardening efforts 🙂

Here it is:




The cat is made of a soft faux fur material and the cover itself is of fine chocolate-coloured fabric.

Hope you will like it!

You can look at it and my other stuff here